Chamber Chat - Holiday Season Statistics

Dec 17

By Meg Moss


In these last weeks leading up to Christmas, I am led to think about the hustle and bustle of the last month. I believe I can generalize by saying that most Americans have been shopping, rearranging the elf of the shelf, shuffling children and grandchildren to Christmas play practice, decorating and baking. While it sounds exhausting, we do it because we love the holiday season and fun-loving spirit that comes along with it.

We shop for several reasons: to keep the spirit of Santa alive, to watch the look on young ones faces, and to show gratitude for the employees, teachers and other special people in our lives.

Most people have the majority of their shopping already done, and did so the weekend after Thanksgiving. From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online according to the National Retail Federation’s (NFR) Consumer Holiday Spending Survey.

NFR is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Their survey provides us with a myriad of information regarding Christmas and other holiday spending.

Average spending per person over the five-day period was $335.47, with $250.78 — 75 percent — specifically going toward gifts. The biggest spenders were older Millennials (25-34 years old) at $419.52

Some of the most popular gifts of all spenders included clothing or accessories (58 percent), toys (38 percent), books and other media (31 percent), electronics (30 percent) and gift cards (23 percent).

“All the fundamentals were in place for consumers to take advantage of incredible deals and promotions retailers had to offer,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “From good weather across the country to low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, the climate was right, literally and figuratively, for consumers to tackle their holiday shopping lists online and in stores.”

Gifts not mentioned by the NFR are gifts such as “adventures”, such as trips to Disneyworld, or on a smaller scale, gifts of summer camp, cooking classes or music classes. Some of these gifts can be purchased locally, such summer camp at San-Lee Park, cooking courses through the community college, or music sessions at Buchanan’s Music. While these gifts aren’t something that will be used on Christmas day, it shows someone that you really considered their interests. And when the time comes for that cooking or music class, the memory of Christmas will come back again.  

If you have a few items still on your list, I encourage you to shop local. And shop small when you can. Small business owners know their consumers inside and out — because they’re right there interacting with you and can see firsthand what their customers want.

One more interesting Christmas statistic…. An article in USA Today stated that of the estimated 95 million American households with Christmas trees this year, 81% will display fake ones, according to an American Christmas Tree Association survey conducted by Nielsen.

The cost of buying a cut tree is 5% to 10% higher this year than last, says the trade group that represents growers, the National Christmas Tree Association. The shortage of seven- and eight-footers, the most popular size with families, is due to fewer trees that were planted during the recession a decade ago. North Carolina Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Heather Overton stated they anticipate the market to really start to rebound in 2019.

Merry Christmas on behalf of the staff at the Sanford Area Growth Alliance – Chamber of Commerce!

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